Arethusa arose From her couch of snows In the Acroceraunian mountains,— From cloud and from crag, With many a jag, Shepherding her bright fountains. She leapt down the rocks, With her rainbow locks Streaming among the streams;— Her steps paved with green The downward ravine Which slopes to the western gleams; And gliding and springing She went, ever singing, In murmurs as soft as sleep; The Earth seemed to love her, And Heaven smiled above her, As she lingered towards the deep.
Then Alpheus bold, On his glacier cold, With his trident the mountains strook; And opened a chasm In the rocks—with the spasm All Erymanthus shook. And the black south wind It unsealed behind The urns of the silent snow, And earthquake and thunder Did rend in sunder The bars of the springs below. And the beard and the hair Of the River-god were Seen through the torrent’s sweep, As he followed the light Of the fleet nymph’s flight To the brink of the Dorian deep.
’Oh, save me! Oh, guide me! And bid the deep hide me, For he grasps me now by the hair!’ The loud Ocean heard, To its blue depth stirred, And divided at her prayer; And under the water The Earth’s white daughter Fled like a sunny beam; Behind her descended Her billows, unblended With the brackish Dorian stream:— Like a gloomy stain On the emerald main Alpheus rushed behind,— As an eagle pursuing A dove to its ruin Down the streams of the cloudy wind.
Under the bowers Where the Ocean Powers Sit on their pearled thrones; Through the coral woods Of the weltering floods, Over heaps of unvalued stones; Through the dim beams Which amid the streams Weave a network of coloured light; And under the caves, Where the shadowy waves Are as green as the forest’s night:— Outspeeding the shark, And the sword-fish dark, Under the Ocean’s foam, And up through the rifts Of the mountain clifts They passed to their Dorian home.
And now from their fountains In Enna’s mountains, Down one vale where the morning basks, Like friends once parted Grown single-hearted, They ply their watery tasks. At sunrise they leap From their cradles steep In the cave of the shelving hill; At noontide they flow Through the woods below And the meadows of asphodel; And at night they sleep In the rocking deep Beneath the Ortygian shore;— Like spirits that lie In the azure sky When they love but live no more.